The daughters of a man who died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma after being exposed to the deadly dust when he worked at Rank Hovis say they cannot look at the old Baltic Flour Mill – now the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art – without thinking of how working there killed their father.

Veronica and Christine Bateman and Eunice Watson continued the fight for compensation against their dad’s former employer after he died in January this year.

George McMillan was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2009. He worked for Rank Hovis for over 30 years, from 1952 to 1982 as a cleaner, a washer man and a screens man at the South Shore Road mill.

He described asbestos lagged pipe work in a very poor state of repair in the screens room and asbestos blankets which covered the dryer where he worked.

Mr McMillan recalled sweeping up dust containing asbestos without damping it down and that this continued as part of his daily work routine throughout most of his employment.

Contacted asbestos claim specialists

His daughters cared for their 85 year old father as his condition rapidly deteriorated and he suffered the unpleasant side effects of medication. He contacted asbestos claim specialists Thompsons Solicitors for advice about obtaining compensation from Rank Hovis and Veronica continued the claim after his death.

Proceedings started in the Royal Courts of Justice in London in May, throughout which Hovis did not admit or deny the nature of Mr McMillan’s work. It did however offer a substantial out of court payment to his daughters, which was accepted in settlement of the claim.

Veronica Bateman, of Dunston, Gateshead said: “Our father was the very best dad in the world. He was such a kind and caring man. Before he became ill he was very fit and active. But his illness aged him very quickly. He hated this because it took his quality of life away.

“We looked after him around the clock and felt helpless watching him suffering so badly in his final months. This was terribly distressing to us all. Dad’s dignity was robbed by the disease. It is very hard to accept that he died because the company he worked for all those years ago failed to protect him. There was nothing else wrong with our dad and he would still have been alive today. When I look at the Baltic Flour Mill building now I think of how the place killed my father. As a family we felt we had to carry on the compensation claim for our dad’s sake.”

Gill Connolly of Thompsons Solicitors said: “The dangers of asbestos were well known to employers by the time Mr McMillan was working for Rank Hovis. Asbestos disease is so often associated with the legacy of heavy industry and shipbuilding in this region. The tragic circumstances of Mr McMillan’s case illustrates that the historical presence of asbestos in many different types of workplace can be sufficient to cause mesothelioma unless employers take adequate precautions.”

This news story was also published by Chronicle Live.